Friday 27 September 2013

Mad Musing On 'THE RETURNED' By Jason Mott

The Returned
THE BLURB: Jacob was time out of sync, time more perfect than it had been. He was life the way it was supposed to be all those years ago. That's what all the Returned were.

Harold and Lucille Hargrave's lives have been both joyful and sorrowful in the decades since their only son, Jacob, died tragically at his eighth birthday party in 1966. In their old age they've settled comfortably into life without him, their wounds tempered through the grace of time ... Until one day Jacob mysteriously appears on their doorstep—flesh and blood, their sweet, precocious child, still eight years old.

All over the world people's loved ones are returning from beyond. No one knows how or why this is happening, whether it's a miracle or a sign of the end. Not even Harold and Lucille can agree on whether the boy is real or a wondrous imitation, but one thing they know for sure: he's their son. As chaos erupts around the globe, the newly reunited Hargrave family finds itself at the center of a community on the brink of collapse, forced to navigate a mysterious new reality and a conflict that threatens to unravel the very meaning of what it is to be human.

With spare, elegant prose and searing emotional depth, award-winning poet Jason Mott explores timeless questions of faith and morality, love and responsibility. A spellbinding and stunning debut, The Returned is an unforgettable story that marks the arrival of an important new voice in contemporary fiction.

MAD MUSINGS:  I picked this book up thinking it was going to be a grand adventure horror story.  It wasn't....  While it was an interesting concept - that the dead are all coming 'back to life', and, yes, there was strife and horror elements to it, it ended up being more of an examination of humanity.  Mott describes many different reactions to these 'Returned' people - from blind acceptance, to mass genocide, and they are all exactly what I can believe would happen in similar circumstances.  This global event is told from the eyes of an elderly couple who is suddenly reunited with their previously deceased 8 year old son.  Even though they had discussed what they thought they believed these returned people to be - it was interesting to see how their minds changed when they were actually in the situation themselves.   It makes me wonder what my reaction would be if I were them...... I like to 'think' I'd be in the 'it's-really-my-son' camp.... but.....

I liked the writing style of this book - although the story dragged a little in the middle for me.  It sure had an unexpected ending - and that's what made the difference, for me, about whether I liked the book or not!   What do you think you would do if this happened to you?

Thank you to Netgalley and Harlequin for providing this review ARC in exchange of an honest review.

***.5 stars

Friday 23 August 2013

Mad Musing On: SHADOW, and INK by Amanda Sun

SHADOW (Paper Gods 0.5) BLURB:
 Meet two teens whose worlds are about to change forever in this paranormal Young Adult novella, a prequel to Ink by debut author Amanda Sun…

Katie Greene’s worst nightmare comes true when her mother dies, and she’s devastated to learn that she will have to leave the only home she’s ever known. Desperate to find where she belongs, she must decide if she has what it takes to start a new life across the ocean. 

For Yuu Tomohiro, every day is a nightmare. He struggles to control his strange ability, and keeps everyone at a distance so they won’t get hurt—even his girlfriend, Myu. At night, a shadow haunts his dreams, and a mysterious woman torments him with omens of death and destruction. But these haunting premonitions are only the beginning…

INK (Shadow Gods 1) BLURB:
On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn't know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.

Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn't prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they'll both be targets.

Katie never wanted to move to Japan—now she may not make it out of the country alive.

MAD MUSINGS:  Can I just take a moment to admire those gorgeous covers?
The novella, SHADOW, was released a few weeks before INK was, but it should really be read as a part of the main story, I think, because things about the main character, Yuu Tomohiro, make a lot more sense that way.  And it also has Katie's back-story in it, which doesn't really go into much detail in the main story.

I thought this was a fresh take on the typical YA story, by Canadian author Amanda Sun.  For one thing, it takes place in modern day Japan, and for another, it doesn't use the typical werewolf/vampire/insert favourite monster-of-the-moment here.  There are other paranormal beings at work in this story.  I was quite taken with the way that Katie was a fish out of water - she moved to a whole new country after losing her mother, and we learn about Japan through her eyes.  I can definitely relate to the things she was feeling in the days after she lost her mother because I felt a lot of those same things after losing my father suddenly at the age of 14.  It made me feel really close to Katie, and therefore to Tomohiro, by default.

I enjoy a good story that makes me want to look up things and places on the internet, and this story definitely peaked my curiosity.  So I thought I'd share some of the beautiful places and other things that I looked up while reading INK.

First of all Shizuoka City, Japan - the setting of the story:

Sunpu Park and Castle, Shizouka, Japan:

Cherry Blossoms During the Cherry Blossom Festival or Hanami:

Toro Iseki - an archaeological ruin in the midst of Shizouka:

The famous Otorii Itsukushima Shrine in Myajima : 

The martial art of kendo:

The goddess Amaterasu and the Kami:

And a famous artist in Japan, Tairo No Yoshitoshi

Did I mention that if you get this book off of i-tunes, you get moving pictures???  Very appropriate for a story about pictures that come to life, right?

What more is there to say, except I give this book 5 stars, and very much look forward to the next book?


Thank you to Harlequin Books and NetGalley for the Arc of this book in exchange of an honest review. 

Sunday 30 June 2013

Mad Musing On: Gameboard Of The Gods By Richelle Mead

THE BLURB: In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.

When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.

Gameboard of the Gods, the first installment of Richelle Mead’s Age of X series, will have all the elements that have made her YA Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series such mega-successes  sexy, irresistible characters; romantic and mythological intrigue; and relentless action and suspense.

MAD MUSINGS:  This story just reaffirms how much I adore Richelle's writing.  She creates interesting and unique main characters that I wouldn't normally care about, and makes me love them!    Main case here is the male lead - Justin.... He's what I would call a womanizer when we first meet him.  And Mae is the Ice Princess.... seems like a match made in hell, right?   But these two together bring out the softer side in each other, somehow.  My friend, Sarah, said it the best way to me the other day - Those that love with such great passion can also fight with that same passion.  And we can certainly see how that can be the case here!!   Is it strange that, as I was reading about Justin and Mae, all I could think of was these two? 

Just a little Battlestar Galactica fangirling - nothing to see here.....
That's exactly it, right???  Justin and Mae are exactly Gaius and Six!!  LOL

Anyway..... I know that this story is touted as a sci-fi, but I would call it more of a dystopian story.  And they way the story ended - the next one could go off in any direction! I like that I can't guess it.   There's a lot of mention in this story about different gods from other religions (new and ancient) from around the world. There's one 'god' in particular that pertains to Justin, and we are supposed to wonder who it was.. .  I knew all along who it was, because I just happened to do a bit of research into this particular culture for another book recently and the clues were there right at the start.  But it's still cool how bits and pieces are revealed. 

I look forward to another fascinating series from Richelle Mead.

****1/2 stars


Saturday 6 April 2013

Mad Musings On: Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices, #3)

The Blurb:
Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy

Tessa Gray should be happy - aren't all brides happy?
Yet as she prepares for her wedding, a net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute.
A new demon appears, one linked by blood and secrecy to Mortmain, the man who plans to use his army of pitiless automatons, the Infernal Devices, to destroy the Shadowhunters. Mortmain needs only one last item to complete his plan. He needs Tessa. And Jem and Will, the boys who lay equal claim to Tessa's heart, will do anything to save her.

Mad Musings:

I just need to get this out of the way first thing:

OMG THE EMOTIONAL DRAMA!!! I HAVEN'T CRIED THIS HARD OVER A BOOK IN A VERY LONG TIME (Probably since Clockwork Prince came out.... )  Now where's the Kleenex...?  It's been a couple of weeks since I finished this, and I think I can now put my thoughts into some sort of coherent form down on virtual paper....

Even though this series has what seems to be a typical love triangle,  can anyone ever imagine an outcome that satisfies both teams of shippers quite like Cassandra has done in this series?  It's downright astonishing!!  The twists and turns.... oh my!!  And even though, when we finally do find out what Tessa is and how she came to be.... some may have guessed the what part of the question, but not the how part of it.  Brilliant!   I thought I loved Clare's original series, The Mortal Instruments, but my mantra the last few weeks has been "I think this book has put The Infernal Devices as my favourite of Clare's series - I'm as surprised as you are!"  No doubt this sentiment will last for about as long as the time I finally get to read City of Heavenly Fire..... But anyways.....

I really just can't say enough without giving away spoilers, but I will give this bit of advice:  If you are lucky enough to have a first edition of the real book in your hands and you don't want spoilers, resist, I mean really RESIST looking at that tempting family tree behind the jacket cover.  There are spoilers there - I almost cried when I was foolish enough to do it!  I'm serious!!  Don't do it!

I think I just may do a re-read now.... 

*****5+ stars

Mad Musings On: The Lost Prince (Call Of The Forgotten) By Julie Kagawa

The Lost Prince (The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten, #1)

The Blurb: 
Don’t look at Them. Never let Them know you can see Them.

That is Ethan Chase’s unbreakable rule. Until the fey he avoids at all costs—including his reputation—begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. To save a girl he never thought he’d dare to fall for.

Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister’s world—the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her home, a land of myth and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten.

Mad Musings:
It was so good to return to The Iron Realm.... sooooo good.  I missed Megan and Ash and Puck.  Although this story isn't really about them.  In this new series we meet Megan's little brother Ethan, all grown up into a surly teenager.  And boy does he have a chip on his shoulder!   It's a good thing he channels that energy through martial arts, or he'd probably explode! (I speak from personal experience here.  This is one of the reasons I also enrolled my son into Kung Fu classes.  He adores it to this day! Anyways....)
 So when this 'bad boy' finally meets a girl he likes and inadvertently has to drag her back into the world he hates so much, one might say it's a life changing experience!  Also, meeting Kierran - who, if you don't already know who he is, I won't tell ;)

I just love the way Julie Kagawa builds her worlds:  in layers, to be slowly revealed one at a time.  She leaves you wanting to know more of the strange and dangerous world of the fae.  I wonder if everyone would be guided by Grimalkin and his unique brand of 'helpfulness' upon entry to the faery world?  Probably not - he wouldn't have that kind of time, and he wouldn't care all that much anyways...

So my only question is, where can we find a glider of our own?  They sound like tremendous fun, just like this book was.

I can't wait to read #2 in the Call of the Forgotten Series: The Iron Traitor.  By the way, that book's cover was recently revealed:

The Iron Traitor (The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten, #2)

This is Kierran, on the cover.  Say it isn't so!!!!  An iron traitor?!?!?  One would hope it would not be from his own choice!!  So I guess I have to wait to find out..... *sigh*

**** 4 stars 

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for review purposes. Thank you!

Sunday 10 March 2013

Mad Musings On: The Eternity Cure (The Blood Of Eden #2) by Julie Kagawa

The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden, #2)

The Blurb:
Allison Sekemoto has vowed to rescue her creator, Kanin, who is being held hostage and tortured by the psychotic vampire Sarren. The call of blood leads her back to the beginning—New Covington and the Fringe, and a vampire prince who wants her dead yet may become her wary ally.

Even as Allie faces shocking revelations and heartbreak like she’s never known, a new strain of the Red Lung virus that decimated humanity is rising to threaten human and vampire alike.

Mad Musings:
Where to start, where to start..... 

I've literally just finished reading, and I still have tears in my eyes.  And I may have just woken up the house with my loud OMG that I just yelled....  But that's ok, they needed to get up anyways.... I need something to distract my brain...

This was an intense and thrilling ride through zombieland, where your enemies become your allies, and the unexpected shows up... well, unexpectedly!   And I had my suspicions that something wasn't quite right with a certain someone who appears out of the blue, and I was sort of right about that, but now I certainly understand why the title of the series is "The Blood of Eden".   And Allie certainly had to learn to be wary of anyone from her past, because maybe her former allies aren't exactly on her side any more either...

And then there's the devious, bad boy character that I can't help but to picture like this:

Get'em, Jackal!  LOL

Sooooo, Um,  Ms Julie Kagawa..... Um, When is the next book coming out??  Because I really need it YESTERDAY!!! 

Oh yeah, first THIS one has to come out ;)

The Eternity Cure is available on April 30th from Harlequin Teen

***** 5 stars

I received this ARC from Harlequin Teen on Netgalley for review purposes :) Thank you!

Sunday 3 March 2013

Mad Musings On: Beautiful Creatures By Kami Garcia And Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles, #1)

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

I used this book as an experiment of sorts - I wanted to see if watching the movie first would have any impact on whether or not I liked the book.  I did this because I was hearing from other people who love the series how disappointed they were with the movie!   I thought the movie trailer looked great, so I didn't want to go into it jaded.  So my Hubby and I went on a Valentine's date to see this movie on the opening weekend.  We both quite enjoyed it, although I had questions about some of the characters and the plot, which was to be expected.  

Well, not far into reading Beautiful Creatures, I could already see some of the differences, although to me it's minor things like appearances and, yes, the movie peeps combines a couple of characters into one onscreen person.    That happens more than once, as it turns out.  But I can also understand the reasons the movie bigwigs would do that - it makes the story less complicated by having to track fewer characters - keep it to the main people and the main story line!   Of course there's also the omitted scenes from the book that we always cry out "Why didn't they include this in the movie?"  Personally, I would've liked to see the Winter Ball scene - but I guess it doesn't really advance the main story all that much, so it ends up being deleted - maybe it'll show up in deleted scenes, when DVD release time arrives?  Time will tell...

So, about the book.... I really was surprised at how different Book Ethan was from Movie Ethan.  He was so funny in the movie, and not as much in the book.  But it was kind of cool to see the way the guy feels about a new relationship in a YA book for a change.    I mean, for the most part he wasn't even sure she was his girlfriend!  It makes me want to just whisper in his ear "Dude, you're spending all your time with her, kissed several times, and holding hands.... she's definitely a girlfriend YEESH!"

What I'm still confused about with the book, is the ending.  The movie has a totally different ending, which I though was pretty cool, but the book didn't even hint at that.  Where did producers pull that from?  Is it in the next book, Beautiful Darkness?   Well, I suppose I'm just going to have to read that one to find out....

**** 4 stars

**On a personal note, Margaret Stohl was another of the fabulous authors I had the privilege to meet at the Smart Chicks tour last fall.  She was a delight and kept us all laughing with her hilarious antics.  I was really hoping that some of her sense of humour would appear in her writing, and I was not disappointed :)